Saturday, March 31, 2007
Tribune Company stock rose 1.7 percent Friday as investors waited for the media company to announce a possible buyout. Thursday night, Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle submitted a last-minute bid for the owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
Battle over Tribune Co. - The Editors Weblog
Last night, two Los Angeles billionaires put in a last-minute bid for the Tribune Company, outbidding real-estate tycoon Sam Zell and most likely pushing back even further a decision on the company’s fate. The employee stock ownership model, used in both offers to make employees the majority owners, has worked for small companies but has rarely been used for larger ones in the last 20 years.
Big Test for Workers as Owners - Hendersonville News
A sampling of other Tribune employees found cautious optimism after a long period of uncertainty and not a little chaos. “We listen, we wait, and, yeah, maybe we worry a little bit,” said Steve Lopez, a columnist at The Los Angeles Times. “But what could be better? Our work is so good, we’ve got billionaires fighting over us.” But many Tribune employees remain deeply confused, especially regarding what a stock ownership plan might entail. “I can’t even guess,” said Bob Englehart, the editorial cartoonist at The Hartford Courant. “I’m too ignorant to be afraid.”
Billionaire Bingo: Nine More Tribune Questions - Content Bridges
So what will the role of former L.A. Times Publisher Jeff Johnson (shown here, left to right, in happier days with editors Dean Baquet and John Carroll) in a post-sale world be, if Ron Burkle gets the prize? Will Johnson, a once-loyal Tribune exec, who was sacked for impudence in publicly resisting budget cuts by CEO Dennis FitzSimons, play an operational role, and have FitzSimons, even for a day or so, reporting to him?
Tribune's fate undecided - Chicago Tribune
Unable to reach a verdict Friday, Tribune Co.'s independent directors planned to resume deliberations Saturday on whether to accept Chicago billionaire Sam Zell's $33-per-share proposal for the media company or a rival 11th-hour offer from Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle worth $34 a share, sources said.A meeting of the full Tribune board is scheduled for Sunday, when a final decision could be voted on.
Tribune said to still favor Zell's buyout bid - Los Angeles Times
Tribune Co. continued to favor an acquisition proposal by real estate mogul Sam Zell, but a special committee of directors was asking questions Friday about a competing bid by Los Angeles billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad.The media conglomerate had hoped to bring an end to a torturous six-month review of alternatives by its self-imposed deadline of today. The talks are likely to continue into Sunday, however, in part because of the time needed to consider the 11th-hour counteroffer Burkle and Broad submitted Thursday.
Tribune Co. may choose suitor on Sunday - MarketWatch
The fate of Tribune Co. may be decided Sunday, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune Saturday. The report said that deliberations Saturday on the competing bids could result in a vote at a meeting of Tribune Co.'s full board on Sunday. Shares of Tribune (TRB) ended the Friday higher by another 58 cents, or 1.8%, at $32.11. Over the last two weeks, Tribune shares have climbed more than 10% in anticipation the parent of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and various media properties could have a new owner.
To view the traffic flow of this blog, click on the blue icon at the left side column, you may find the information interesting. While viewing the stats, under the last ten visitors click on the green icon next to each visitor to see a map of where the visitor is located.
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Friday, March 30, 2007
The Writerly Pause is a new group blog that my writer friends and I have put together. Every few months we speak to a much-published novelist, journalist or playwright. So far we've spoken to author Frank Schaeffer (Baby Jack), and Playwright & Screenwriter José Rivera (Motorcycle Diaries).
Next month we'll speak to award winning journalist Al Martinez. His writing and editing helped the Los Angeles Times win three Pulitzer Prizes.
Please bookmark this and The Writerly Pause, and let me know when you do. We'll link you to our page.
For my part, I've been her sounding board, cheerleader and support these last few weeks. It was hard to accept that my role in her live changed from "parenting" to "parent". I was never the kind of parent who looked at my child as a "friend". I was the mom, charged with the responsibility of preparing my children to live by the rules of society no matter how hard the rules are. Of course, there were times I was tempted to give in and allow her to have her way but I resisted because I wanted to raise a self-sufficient child who would fit in and contribute to society. I'm proud of all my children and I pray every day for the strength and stamina to raise the two youngest still living at home. No matter how many children you raise, it's always difficult when you have to step back and have faith that you've raised them right.
I hope to be able to blog a little more frequently and look forward to any comments readers have.
Please continue to pray for our troops all over the world. God bless everyone!
James Logan High School in Union City may have the only school paper whose Web site is updated 365 days a year, according to class adviser Patrick Hannigan. The Hayward Daily Review says that on days when there are no articles written by student journalists, students update the site by posting stories from other media outlets or items such as the school's daily bulletin, which includes the lunch menu.
After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $63.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.
A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.
To access the form for your tax refund, please click here
Regards, Internal Revenue Service
The Tribune board, which is nothing if not greedy, has already set aside $269 million for golden parachutes for a host of executives that would be leaving under new owners (even though Zell has said he would keep present management at least initially). This was close to the $300 million cash Zell was offering out front.
FitzSimons, with his golden parachute, will not need new employment. But Hiller may not be ready to retire. I think he might be induced to go to work for his old Justice Department colleague, Ken Starr, if and when Starr returns to the Justice Department in place of Alberto Gonzales, who presumably will soon be forced to resign for perjuring himself to Congress.
“This could be particularly risky for Tribune employees, who have watched the value of their company sink in recent years. And because Mr. Zell’s plan involves a lot of debt, employees might also be asked to make concessions on wages or on pension contributions.”
As I have been preaching for many years, cut up your credit cards and find ways to trim your expenses, incase this comes to be. In the mean time, here are a few of the many stories on the blogosphere.
2 Billionaires Make Offer for Tribune - New York Times
The two investors said that like Mr. Zell, they would structure a deal based on an employee stock ownership plan, but would offer $34 a share, one dollar more than Mr. Zell’s bid. They also said they would put in $500 million of their own money, compared with Mr. Zell, who had planned to put in at least $300 million.
L.A. duo reenters Tribune auction - Los Angeles Times
The seesaw battle for Tribune Co. tilted again Thursday evening, when Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle said they would pay $1 more a share than real estate mogul Sam Zell, who had been viewed as the front-runner to acquire the media company.Broad and Burkle made their offer as Chicago-based Tribune approached a self-imposed Saturday deadline to determine its fate. It reportedly had been on the verge of accepting a $33-a-share bid from Zell.
Burkle, Broad making $34-a-share, ESOP-based offer - Chicago Tribune
The source said Broad and Burkle's new proposal is worth $34 per share and includes a recapitalization funded, like Zell's plan, by an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. As in their previous offer, it would involve the two men investing $500 million in capital.It was not immediately clear what effect this late revision would have on the board's plans or timetable.Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, WGN-Ch. 9 and other media properties, as well as the Chicago Cubs baseball team, is coming up against a self-imposed Saturday deadline to announce a decision.
Tribune Suitor Zell Is Used to Bucking Trends - Wall Street Jounal
A last minute wrinkle: California businessmen Ron Burkle and Eli Broad have come up with a revised offer to beat Mr. Zell's $33-a-share proposal. According to someone familiar with their plans, the two men sent a letter last night to Tribune's board saying they are more than happy to structure a deal using an ESOP model. They value their new deal at $34 a share, including $500 million in cash, this person said, in exchange for warrants that deliver control of a 40% Tribune stake. Both the Zell and Burkle-Broad offers propose that the buyer would become chairman or co-chairmen of Tribune.
Revised Offer by Broad and Burkle - LA Biz Observed
The new offer was valued by Broad/Burkle at $34 a share and that the two billionaires would be willing to structure the deal with an employee stock ownership plan, just like the Sam Zell proposal.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
A few weeks ago Mack Reed posted here about plans to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Monon Street and Hyperion Avenue in the wake of the tragic death of Silver Lake resident Bill Wingard who on January 20 was struck by a vehicle and killed while in the crosswalk between Trader Joe's and Gelson's.
One of the first people on the scene of the accident to offer aid to Wingard was Trader Joe's crewmember Adam Authier who stayed by Wingard's side until paramedics arrived. Little more than a month later, on February 24, Authier was on Hyperion in Atwater Village bicycling home from work when he was struck by a motorist. Transported to County-USC Medical Center with serious injuries, Authier spent several days in ICU and now faces a long period of recovery -- all without health insurance.
His crewmates at Trader Joe's are partnering with the Company of Angels Theater (of which Wingard was a member) and have organized a benefit Sunday April 1 from 1 - 6 p.m. at the Grand Avenue Club (map) whose proceeds will go to Authier to help with his medical bills. In conjunction with the benefit, Stephen Box of Illuminate L.A. has announced the organization of a bike ride that will depart for the Grand Avenue Club from the Silver Lake Trader Joe's at noon that Sunday.
An executive within Tribune said the board was scheduled to meet Friday and was expected to announce a deal with Zell that day. Financial news site TheStreet.com reported Wednesday that Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, who complained last weekend that Tribune was giving their bid short shrift, had resumed talking with Tribune and could make a counter-bid before the deadline. Broad and Burkle did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Judge halts sale of Advocate - The Advocate
Tribune did not require Gannett to honor the contract as it was supposed to, according to an attorney for Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers, which represents photographers and reporters in the Stamford newsroom. The attorney, Thomas Meiklejohn, said that had the sale been allowed, those employees benefits, wages and job security would no longer be protected by the union contract.
Tribune Debt May Sink Zell - New York Post
Other recent newspaper buyers have been caught off guard by how fast the newspaper industry is deteriorating, as cable and the Internet continue to woo away readers and advertisers. Not long after acquiring the Philadelphia Inquirer last year, for instance, public relations mogul Brian Tierney was concerned about his ability to make debt payments and ended up making newsroom cuts to conserve cash.
L.A. Times May Have Dumped Grazer - New York Observer
“I should have followed Dean out the door,” said Mr. Martinez on March 24, two days after he did follow Mr. Baquet out the door with his resignation from the editorial-page job. “I was nine-tenths of the way there.”
The betting still favors a Sam Zell acquisition - LA Biz Observed
Meanwhile, a Tribune executive told the LAT that the board was set to meet tomorrow and announce the Zell deal later in the day.
Work, work, work - Walks Clog the Bases
It's looking more and more like Sam Zell's going to "win" the "battle" for the Tribune Company (he's the only bidder; it's not much of a competition here). What I've been trying to do is figure out why he's using an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) structure. Given his stated intention of not breaking up TRB into TV and newspaper assets, there shouldn't be a big tax hit anyway. But all the articles I've read have suggested that Sam Zell's ESOP structure would avoid taxes. That leaves two options: 1) there are incremental tax advantages to an ESOP structure that I'm not seeing or 2) Sam can't do the deal without having the employees contribute equity through the ESOP.
If you were suddenly appointed an all powering helm of the L.A. Times, how would you manage it? Who would you hire to manage the different sections? Any other fundamental changes?
Metro Blogging LA
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Yet, our room was large enough to seat everyone comfortably, with large windows over looking Cal State Los Angeles and the clogged freeways below us.
As the men filled the room the sound level increased to a rather loud roar, as they were so happy to see one another again, remember, many of the men worked together for thirty to forty years. It’s something like a class reunion that occurs every six months.
We had two special guests join us, Russ Burgess and Klaus Kurst, long time Los Angeles Times employees themselves.
Comedian Tina Kim agreed to do a fifteen-minute stand up routine, which went over extremely well, that lasted forty minutes.
Starting in 2008 we will move our dinners from the Tuesday/Saturday format to a Monday/Saturday format to allow the men and women with Sunday and Monday's off to attend.
Our next dinner will be held on October 27th, 2007 and I urge all employees to give it a try, you may return again and again.
The News & Chatter side of LA Observed plans to stand down for a day or so to mark the passing of my father. Robert Roderick lived to 89 and will be missed by many, among them the ethnic restaurateurs he helped keep in business around the San Fernando Valley. Those selected bloggers, columnists and political aides who would find his unsolicited email tips in their in-boxes are on their own now.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Cubs, will probably accept real estate billionaire Sam Zell's $8 billion takeover offer by the end of the week, according to people familiar with the matter. An agreement is likely by Tribune's self-imposed deadline of March 31, said the people, who declined to be named because no decision has been made. Zell's offer of $33 a share is 6.8 percent above yesterday's close.
Why Print Journalism Will Never Really Die - SeekingAlpha
Judging by the blogosphere's reaction, I'm really happy that Web content is free; at the moment, I feel that it is worth every penny I am paying for it. My reason: people are confusing the business of publishing newspapers with the discipline and art of journalism. It's kind of like saying that because symphony orchestras struggle for subscriptions, we need to stop sending musicians to conservatories and start hiring groups of street musicians. While it may appeal to fans of street musicians (of which I am one), I doubt it will do much for the advancement of classical music.
Will Buyout Save Tribune? - Sramana Mitra
But the question remains. Will this buyout save Tribune? Can Tribune turnaround? Are the company’s online initiatives enough? Do they need to push more aggressively online?
Yes, Tribune has made a number of strategic moves in the online media space and TheEnvelope is a step in the right direction, but the company needs to roll-up many more relevant online verticals to save the day.
Newspapers Are Alive And Kicking - Guardian
Last year's cover story in The Economist headlined "Who killed the newspaper?" spurred the World Editors' Forum and Reuters to discover the state of the press across the globe. The result is the first Newsroom Barometer, claiming to be the first international survey focused on newsroom strategies and morale. So, according to 435 of the world's editors-in-chief, deputy editors and senior news executives, nobody has killed the newspaper.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Focus on Multimedia, Rich Content and Personal Utility
LOS ANGELES, March 26, 2007— The Los Angeles Times today announced several editorial changes designed to meet the evolving needs of readers, users and advertisers. The shifts come on the heels of recent new content launches and redesigned editorial offerings and emphasize integration across print and online to better position The Times as a dynamic, round-the-clock destination for indispensable and differentiated news and information for Southern Californians.
· The return of the OPINION section, (now called CURRENT), which will be merged with BOOK REVIEW as a combined Sunday section beginning April 15
# # #
About the Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of nearly 2.2 million and 3.3 million on Sunday. The Los Angeles Times and its media businesses - including latimes.com, The Envelope/theenvelope.com, Times Community Newspapers, Recycler Classifieds, Hoy, and California Community News - reach approximately 8.1 million or 62% of all adults in the Southern California marketplace every week.
The Los Angeles Times, has been covering Southern California for over 125 years and is part of Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB), one of the country's leading media companies with businesses in publishing, the Internet and broadcasting. Additional information about the Los Angeles Times is available at www.latimes.com/mediacenter.
Word from Tribune West claims executives at the newspaper receive a free subscription to the newspaper to their homes, which prompted yours truly to ask one of the executives if this was true? I was told, executives for the Times have a free issue delivered to their desks, and pay for the newspaper delivered to their homes.
In this picture (taken by Don Reese) I attempt to have Jack sign up for a paid subscription to the Los Angeles Times. If you would like to take advantage of this offer call 1.800.252.9141 or follow this link and subscribe online, using my employee number 051627.
And a big thank you goes out to the new subscribers.
For once, I got it exactly right. Three days ago in this blog, I predicted, "We can expect that now, like (Michael) Kinsley before him, (Andres) Martinez will industriously try to smear the newspaper which gave him employment in the first place. Kinsley has pursued a vendetta against the Times, and to some extent all newspapers, and now Martinez will too."
Both of these goofy jackasses are at it this morning, and who have they taken in but media columnist David Carr of the New York Times.
Carr writes a lengthy article in the NYT business section that quotes both Martinez and Kinsley at some length, but scarcely pays any attention to the views of reporters in the newsroom who ably showed management last week that Martinez was guilty of severe ethical transgressions in dating a Hollywood publicist while retaining her client to edit some of his editorial pages.
The Los Angeles Fire Department joins the American Diabetes Association to 'Sound the Alert' for the millions of Americans who have diabetes - but don't know it!
March 27, 2007 is the 19th Annual American Diabetes Alert Day
The men and women of the LAFD are proud to be a part of this effort, and ask you to join them in sharing the word and taking a quick and simple on-line test to determine your personal risk.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Last year one of my Tribune boss’ told me Take Back the Times was the most disliked blog by the Los Angeles Times employees, and asked if I would stop linking the daily contempt aimed at the Tribune Company on my blog. I agreed, but had a change of heart after the executives at Tribune Towers awarded themselves $269,000,000 in golden parachutes if the company is sold. On February 14th, 2007 the board gave themselves thousands of shares of Tribune stock, for doing a fine job I suppose, which will pay them a large dividend if there is a payout.
If Ken Reich’s blog is so disliked by Times Employees, why are his messages posted in the hallways at Tribune West (formerly Times Mirror Square), maybe someone enjoys what he is saying?
The recurring word of the day at our plant was Enron; will we end up like the former employees of Enron, retirements lost forever, while the executives walk away with millions in their pockets no matter which course is taken? Tensions are rising among the workers at the newspaper as we near this Friday’s conclusion. Many of my co-workers comments can not be repeated here, but let me assure you, the workers are not pleased.
Here are a few links to what the Blogosphere is saying regarding Tribune gate.
Over on Easy Writer:
This lesson learned is one that I could apply to writing, or even to my life and raising my kids. First pass, yes, but don't forget that there's a second, third, fourth, fifth and umpteenth to burnish what we create, to instill that emotional core that drives life itself.
Recent downsizing at the Minneapolis Star Tribune left that newspaper with a Washington bureau staffed by only an intern. But, as reader rep Kate Parry explains, the intern is "experienced" and can handle things in the nation's capital until new reporters are cycled in. Must be a great intern.
It must always be remembered that the Tribune has reached an end point, where a failed management under CEO Dennis FitzSimons must be replaced for the good of the entire enterprise. Just this morning, it's reported that Tribune revenues are sliding and that the decline is a particularly severe 5.1% for the Tribune newspapers.
It's possible, I suppose, that an eventual deal to buy the Tribune, might, as in the McClatchy purchase of newspapers last year, lead to a resale of certain of the assets. In other words, Zell might buy the company and then turn around and sell the L.A. Times portion of it to Burkle and Broad.
Stay tuned. The fun has only begun, but it's certainly made a good start with the demise of Andres Martinez as editorial pages editor.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I am one of the 21,000 Tribune employees across America, that was not asked if I wanted my retirement used to finance the Sam Zell deal, or any other self-help plan the Chicago committee may recommend.
Talk at the Times centers on many different scenarios the company may opt to take, and how these plans will influence the workers and their future at the newspaper.
The majority of my colleagues have no clue that Andres Martinez was an editor for the newspaper, but I’m not mad at them. I have no clue who Kobe might be, he plays baseball I think?
It would be great to hear from Dennis FitzSimons or David Hiller on how the different plans would change my life and retirement, because I have no clue at the moment.
Good riddance to a man, who, like his predecessor, Michael Kinsley, did some mighty strange things as editor of the editorial pages, including terminating the services in his area of three Pulitzer Prize winners.
We can expect that now, like Kinsley before him, Martinez will industriously try to smear the newspaper which gave him employment in the first place. Kinsley has pursued a vendetta against the Times, and to some extent all newspapers, and now Martinez will too.
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 5:32 PM
Subject: What's really important
To the Staff:
Sometimes it is hard to remember what we are really about when controversy swirls around the newsroom. Then, news breaks such as the Associated Press naming Bill Plaschke the nation's best sports columnist in large newspapers, reminding us of what is truly important -- quality journalism for our readers. Bill's honor and many other awards announced in recent weeks remind me of what an excellent newspaper this staff puts out every day, from Baghdad to Los Angeles, from Washington to Sacramento. You all should be so proud of yourselves and your paper. We can't get distracted by noise from those on the sidelines.
Since the start of the year, we've won so many awards that I really can't list them all. Consider this: The Times Sports department won the Triple Crown for placing among the Top 10 newspapers in the nation for best Sunday, daily and special sports sections. Ken Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling not only won the George Polk Award for the Altered Oceans series, they, along with Rick Loomis, also won numerous other awards, including National Journalism awards sponsored by Scripps Howard and the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism. Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Alan Zarembo are Investigative Reporting finalists in the Scripps Howard national competition for their work on organ transplants. Charles and Tracy are finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, too. Steve Lopez is a finalist for the prestigous Batten Medal awarded by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. We placed first or second in eight catagories [sic] of the AP News Executives Council awards and in seven catagories [sic] in that organization's photo and graphics competition. David Zucchino is a finalist for the Ernie Pyle Award. Judy Pasternak won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice for her "Blighted Homeland" series. The Photo staff won so many awards in the Picture of the Year International Competition that it would be impractical to list them all. The same is true for the Best of Phorojournalism awards from the National Press Photographers Association. In all, the photo staff had 10 winners. In the Society for News Design competitiion [sic], the Times placed first in total awards with 107, edging out the New York Times. The LA Times total is the highest in the history of the awards. And it's only March.
I also want to correct some misinformation being published on blogs by Andres Martinez. I don't want to engage in mud-slinging with Andres. He is a good journalist and I feel bad for him, worse today, in fact, than yesterday. But I'm also not going to sit here like some silent lamb while he distorts my record and attacks this newspaper and my newsroom.
I am not in charge of the editorial board of this newspaper. The editor of the editorial page reports directly and independently to Publisher David Hiller. That is as it should be. I strongly believe in the principle that separate editors should be in charge of news and opinion. To suggest that I told David Hiller I didn't want the editorial board reporting to me on a "whim" is untrue. He is referring to part of a longer conversation with Nikki Finke, and to take my remarks out of context is unprofessional and sloppy. Moreover, no one in this newsroom is on a campaign to "storm the editorial page and bring it back into lockstep with the newsroom." It is true that we have journalists in the newsroom who don't agree with Andres' views on the ethical problems that led to his resignation. I count myself among them. But these are legitimate, genuine differences of opinion held by people with a passion for the news and this newspaper. To suggest otherwise is pitiful. He also attacked Sue Horton and Julie Marquis for having the audacity to alert the editorial pages to the important work of the staff in case it might make a good editorial. Sue and Julie did nothing wrong.
Lastly, Andres suggests I came to Los Angeles as some sort of agent of Tribune Company to quell an "uprising by the imperial subjects." To refer to the journalists at this newspaper in such a manner is an insult to hard-working people who happen to disagree with Andres. I came here because it was an honor to be selected to lead a great newspaper with an excellent staff in one of the most interesting cities in the world. I will stand on my record and credentials as a newsman and journalist. The suggestion that I make decisions simply to curry favor with the staff is also simply untrue. We face hard times. If I have to make decisions that are unpopular with the staff but in the best long-term interest of this newspaper, I will not hesitate to make them. That is what leadership is about. I've said that openly from the day that I walked into this newsroom.
I believe in full disclosure.
Friday, March 23, 2007
One week from today Tribune Employees will know where the company is headed, or at least we hope to know something by then.
Kevin Roderick posts an e-mail from Andrés Martinez and requests feedback from journalist’s mentioned.
Martinez Resigns Over Hiller Decision - Fishbowl LA
David Hiller, left with very few options, kills the much touted guest editor special publication planned for this Sunday's Current Section.
Talk About Bad Timing - Easy Writer
He's got a divorce coming up, he'll probably break up with the publicist, and now he hasn't got a job.
LA Times' Opinion Chief Walks - Los Angeles Times
Publisher David D. Hiller's decision Thursday to scrap a special opinion section to avoid the appearance of an ethical breach triggered the resignation of Editorial Page Editor Andr–s Martinez, who accused the paper's editor and publisher of overreacting.
I Am Sorry I Let You Down - Opinion LA
With eighty-five comments and counting, readers respond regarding the Brian Grazer selection to guest edit Current this Sunday.
Editor Quits Over A Hollywood Connection - Washington Post
The editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times resigned yesterday after acknowledging a romantic relationship with a publicist for Brian Grazer, the Hollywood producer who had been tapped to serve as guest editor of the paper's opinion section on Sunday.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Los Angeles Times
nancy.sullivan at latimes.com
This morning we made the decision to stop production of this coming Sunday’s Current section that was to unveil a new “Guest Editor” program, with the debut edition headed by Oscar™ and Emmy™-winning writer-producer Brian Grazer.
The reason for this decision is that a potential conflict of interest had emerged over a personal relationship between The Times’ Editorial Page Editor Andrés Martinez and a public relations executive from a firm doing work for Brian. We believe that this relationship did not influence the selection of Brian as guest editor. Nonetheless, in order to avoid even the appearance of conflict, we felt the best course of action was not to publish the section. The trust our readers place in us, built over 125 years, is of the highest importance and we try never to do anything that would call that into question.
I want to underscore that nothing in this situation is, in any way, a reflection on Brian Grazer, who has been honorable and generous throughout. I’m sorry that he and the wonderful group of contributors he had assembled have been put through this. The fine contributors include Paul Ekman on lie detection; André Leon Talley on fashion and status; Eric Kandel on the brain and psychotherapy; Dalton Conley on political polling and bias; Shepard Fairy with a special illustration; Marty Singer on the increasingly brazen tabloids and paparazzi; and Sam Hall Kaplan on L.A. I want to thank them for their willingness to participate in this novel idea and hope there will be an avenue to bring these creative, thoughtful and insightful pieces to our readers in the near future.
Also today, Andrés Martinez has submitted his resignation and I have accepted it. I understand and respect his decision. I valued him as a colleague and thank him for his contributions to this great paper.
David D. Hiller
Publisher, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times Editorial Page Editor Andres Martinez resigned this morning over the paper's decision to cancel a special edition of its Sunday Current section.
Martinez made the decision after Publisher David D. Hiller announced this morning that The Times would not publish this Sunday's Current section in order to avoid the appearance that a conflict of interest led to the selection of Hollywood producer Brian Grazer as a guest editor.
In the Times' Opinion blog, Martinez said that "David Hiller's decision to kill the Brian Grazer section this Sunday makes my continued tenure as Los Angeles Times editorial page editor untenable. The person in this job needs to have an unimpeachable integrity, and Hiller's decision amounts to a vote of no confidence in my continued leadership."
Continue reading the Los Angeles Times by clicking on title.
Don't know if he did anything consciously subversive, however, the quality of his work on the editorial pages has been taken to task by pros such as Ken Reich and Bill Boyarsky in the past. And truly if he was ever going to be asked to resign, I hope it would be for this reason.
Had I been Martinez, I never would have agreed to give up command of such an influential post without one hell of a fight, let alone to someone inexperienced as Brian Grazer. His willingness to cede his post for that one Sunday was an indication of either extreme pressure from other forces or a leadership that was uncertain.
Let the investigation begin.
“If a newspaper, even a great newspaper like the Los Angeles Times, loses credibility with its community, with its readers, with its advertisers, with its shareholders, that is probably the most serious circumstance that I can possibly think of. Respect and credibility of a newspaper is irreplaceable. Sometimes it can never be restored no matter what steps might be taken in terms of apology by the publisher, apology by the head of Times Mirror or whatever post event strategies might be developed in the hopes of putting the pieces back together.
“When I think back through the history…of this great newspaper…I realize how fragile and irreplaceable a public trust a newspaper is. This public trust and faith in a newspaper by its employees, its readers, the community, is dearer to me than life itself.” -Otis Chandler, 1999
Boy, if it isn't bad enough to have your dating life outed, you have to become the Brangelina of the Times (Andelly).
I thought it was a bizarre match up . No, Not Andres and Kelly (who --mark my words, will be finished as an 'item' before we finish this blog, though I'm sure the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. M is happy to have more ammo to blast during their divorce negotiations)....sorry, I digressed ... but the odd pairing of Brian Grazer and the LA Times. As your average schmoe, I could have entertained the idea of a guest editor who has won several awards like Ken Reich or any number of solid journalists. I could have even seen them asking a popular writer if they were going for the "PR buzz" like Tom Clancy or better yet, Scott Turow. Or even asking that fancy schmancy in from Vanity Fair, the man with the grey mane, Graydon Carter. But Grazer just never made any sense to me, there was no logical reasoning to ask him --unless he is going to buy the Times.
Yet, there people who try to turn the table: Mullens' superior at 42 West, Allan Mayer, says in the story: "If this thing was killed over this, I think it would be an indication of the moral bankruptcy of the Los Angeles Times. If the newspaper is so fearful of what uninformed people think that it would allow itself to be stampeded in that way … I think it would be a very sad day."
Okay, so let's take this argument apart. Allan Mayer is in the business of promoting his client and any interests his client might have. He's not interested in lack of logistics that led to the idea of bringing Grazer in. He doesn't care about what Charles Ornstein, a pulitzer prize winning journalist has to say. No, I'd strike Mayer's opinions as typical self serving Hollywood biz speak. I think the moral bankruptcy is if everyone stopped caring and let the "vanityships" like this go unquestioned. If Hiller kills it, hopefully he'll do it because some seasoned journalists have struck a chord.
And while it might not have been pillow talk that brought Grazer in, it still doesn't explain why we'd let someone without any experience take command.
But now that Brian Grazer is kind of stuck here at the Times for another few days, surely there are things he can do? Wash the bling mobile? Go get take out for the gang in the Pressmen's lair? Pick up kids? Sell leftover boxes of Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos?
Chicago billionaire Sam Zell, whose proposal to take Tribune Co. private fell out of favor last week, has regained the attention of the independent directors reviewing strategic options for the media giant, sources close to the situation said Wednesday.Tribune's special committee met via conference call Wednesday night to review Zell's proposal, which these sources believe was altered to change the mix of debt and equity.It was one of a series of such meetings that one source said is expected to lead up to a full board meeting on March 30, when the company is scheduled to make a decision about its future after six months of deliberation. The outcome of the meeting, if any, was unclear.
Catherine Seipp, 49; critic took on Times - Los Angeles Times
Catherine Seipp, a writer and media critic who became known in the 1990s for her pointed coverage of the Los Angeles Times in Buzz magazine, has died. She was 49.Seipp, a nonsmoker who was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago, died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her family announced.
Boston Globe cuts newsroom by 6% - CNN Money.com
The Boston Globe's newsroom will shrink by 6 percent after 24 journalists, including two Pulitzer Prize winners, agreed to voluntary buyouts, New England's largest-circulation newspaper said Wednesday. Citing pressure on circulation and advertising revenue from the Internet and other competition, the Globe said the buyouts helped it to avoid layoffs "in the face of some of the harshest conditions for newspapers and other mass media in years."
Gray Days for Newspapers - TheStreet.com
For those investors arguing that the traditional newspaper industry has no future on Wall Street in the digital age, February reports provided more ammunition. Major newspaper publishers reported sharp revenue declines across the board for the month. Classified ads, the industry's cash cow, took a beating as economic conditions worsened where newspapers are particularly vulnerable.
Dark Days for Unions - Columbia Journalism Review
The three-year pact with the former Knight Ridder papers’ new local owners, Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, contained numerous concessions. It expanded a two-tier wage system, curtailed sick pay, poked holes in seniority, and provided inadequate money for spiraling health-insurance costs, let alone raises. After one last payout, it froze pensions without offering any future contribution to employee 401(k) plans. The company did agree to help pursue a merger with a multi-employer pension plan, an effort to preserve the pension system so important to the union’s aging membership.
To access the call, dial 800/299-9086 (domestic) or 617/786-2903 (international) at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled 8 a.m. start. The participant access code is 58067928. Replays of the conference call will be available April 18 through April 25. To hear the replay, dial 888/286-8010 (domestic) or 617/801-6888 (international) and use access code 40703067.
A live webcast will be accessible through http://www.tribune.com and http://www.earnings.com. An archive of the webcast will be available April 18 through May 2.
TRIBUNE (TRB) is one of the country's top media companies, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. It reaches more than 80 percent of U.S. households and is the only media organization with newspapers, television stations and websites in the nation's top three markets. In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), The Sun (Baltimore), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant. The company's broadcasting group operates 23 television stations, Superstation WGN on national cable, Chicago's WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the company's nationwide audience.
SOURCE Tribune Company Media
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Happy Birthday Kanani,
Hope you had a great time with your family on this special day.
(FULLERTON CA) In honor of her birthday, the Queen has made the following decrees:
1. The stuff around the mid section of older people is NOT fat. It is EXTRA SKIN.
2. It's a proven fact that most people do not eat while reading the LA Times. Therefore, it may be deduced that reading the LA Times will help you lose weight.
3. In order to boost subscriptions and prove our policy of inclusiveness, a support group is being formed by the Pressmen for "people who eat while they're reading."
4. It is better to be middle-aged and naive, than young and stupid.
5. Ed Padgett's Mercedes is hereby dubbed "the bling mobile."
Read all about my day on Easy Writer
This morning we released our February revenue report. Although publishing revenues were down about 5 percent, broadcasting revenues were up 1 percent. Results were slightly better than for January and somewhat better than those of our peers. Importantly, interactive revenues were up 17 percent, to $20 million. Today’s press release is posted on tribune.com.
Understandably, there continues to be a great deal of media speculation surrounding our review of strategic alternatives. The special committee’s work has been rigorous and thorough, and the board is working toward an announcement by the end of the month.
The attention focused on the strategic review, however, masks a number of positive things going on around the company. For example:
-- RedEye, our popular youth-oriented commuter tabloid in Chicago, last week announced the launch of a weekend edition. It will be delivered to homes starting in early May.
--This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Times launched IMAGE—a vibrant print and online publication dedicated to Southern California’s unique style and culture. In Hartford, the Courant will debut a monthly lifestyle magazine called CT Slant on March 29.
--In broadcasting, The CW Network is delivering better revenues for our TV stations in prime time. Shows such as “America’s Next Top Model” are generating solid ratings, and current program development for the fall season looks great.
--Journalists at the Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel won Distinguished Writing Awards from the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). This follows the three George Polk Awards recently earned by The Sun, Hartford Courant and Los Angeles Times.
--As you may have heard, the Chicago Tribune’s Tim Ryan is succeeding Ronnie Matthews as publisher of The Sun in Baltimore. While we’re sorry to see Ronnie go and thank her for years at Tribune, Tim’s extensive experience, including five years in Sun management, will serve us well. This is another example of the excellent people and depth of management at the company.
--Finally, Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Tribune Foundation fund, yesterday announced that 21 agencies in the Chicago area will receive grants totaling $945,000. The grants focus on hunger relief.
Clearly, there is a lot of important work with positive outcomes going on around the company. Your focus on business and on serving our customers during this lengthy review process is very much appreciated.
SOURCE LA Biz Observed
I know that Jack Klunder has returned as circulation manager, and he is skillful and well-liked. But without investment in the Times future by the Tribune Co., as long as it remains the owner, circulation cannot really go up to any degree. At least, that's my impression. As Mark Willes remarked to me many years ago after he had been around for awhile, circulation is a battle. He had come in as CEO of Times-Mirror with the stated goal of doubling circulation to about two million, But he found out this was impossible.
You (and I) weren't crazy: the Times did launch a new enviro-blog last Tuesday and suspend it on Thursday. It will return in early April, though, deputy innovation editor Aaron Curtiss tells me. He explained that the blog had been in the works before the new website regime decreed a moratorium on new blogs last month.
Blade union replacement worker's car vandalized - Toledo Blade
A car owned by a replacement worker at The Blade was set on fire and the word "scab" was spray-painted in black on each side of the vehicle and its hood, authorities said. Peter Thayer, 33, of Oregon, was leaving work at an off-site facility at Summit and Lagrange streets about 10:30 p.m. Sunday when he found his Chrysler 300M burning in the parking lot.
Zell says he's still talking to Tribune - Business Week
Billionaire investor Sam Zell said Tuesday that he remains in talks with Tribune Co. and his proposal to acquire the media conglomerate still is on the table. In an interview with The Associated Press, Zell said he doesn't believe his proposal has lost momentum or fallen out of favor with Tribune, as some reports have suggested.
Carlyle Founder Warns Of Impending Downturn - Dailyii
Straight talk from Carlyle Group founder William Conway is sure to prick up ears in the financial world when he speaks of the big letdown coming.
Swan Songs at the Strib - City Pages
Last Wednesday, the Star Tribune released a list of 24 newsroom employees who were leaving the paper. Not layoffs or traditional buyouts, their departures were triggered by a clause in the Strib's contract that guarantees two weeks "dismissal pay" for every year of service up to a maximum of 40 weeks. The clause was triggered when the sale of the Star Tribune by McClatchy Co. to Avista Capital Partners became final.
Hearing officer rejects L.A .Times objections to press union - AP
In an opinion dated March 16, National Labor Relations Board hearing officer Jessica Toton rejected four claims by the Times, owned by the Tribune Co. that union supporters coerced, misled and even threatened workers during the secret-ballot election held Jan. 6. at a newspaper printing plant. Toton recommended that the Graphics Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters be certified as the collective bargaining unit of the 280 Times workers.Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said Tuesday that the paper is "currently exploring our options," including appealing to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C.After 16 years of failed organizing efforts, the employees voted 140-131 to join the union.
CHICAGO, March 21, 2007 -- Tribune Company (TRB) today reported its summary of revenues and newspaper advertising volume for period 2, ended March 4. Consolidated revenues for the period were $385 million, down 3.4 percent from last year's $398 million.
Publishing revenues in February were $294 million compared with $310 million last year, down 5.1 percent. Advertising revenues decreased 5.1 percent to $233 million, compared with $245 million in February 2006.
Circulation revenues were down 7.0 percent due to single-copy declines and continued selective discounting in home delivery.
Broadcasting and entertainment group revenues in February increased 2.4 percent to $90 million compared with $88 million last year. Television revenues rose 1.0 percent; strength in telecom and restaurant/fast food was partially offset by weakness in retail and movies. Radio/entertainment increased 25.9 percent, or $1 million.
SOURCE Tribune Company
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
What is the future of our business? Is the future secure enough for me to stick around?
I am optimistic about the future of our business, despite the current challenges we face on the advertising and readership fronts. Local newspapers remain one of the most effective ways for advertisers to reach a large audience.
We’ll cycle through the current slumps in real estate and automotive sales. We’ll grow our share of local retail advertising. We’ll get more targeted advertising dollars through our niche publications, such as Fronteras, and through such services as TargetSmart. With the expanded San Francisco Bay Area Buy, we’ll grow our national advertising volume.A key to our success is escalating the pace at which we convert into a true multi-media company, offering effective advertising solutions on three fronts: daily and weekly newspapers, digital sites and services and targeted publications.
I am pleased to let you know that the NLRB Region 21 ruled in our favor in the LA Times case. The Hearing Officer, Jessica Toton, agreed with our position that the Times' objections were just too feeble, even when the election was close, to warrant a rerun. It was important to note that the alleged "campaigning" the LA Times accused our observers of doing was minimal, did not violate the Board's anti-electioneering rules, and did not take place in the presence of any eligible voter who hadn't already voted. As for the alleged "threat", the Region agreed with us that Ron Pineda was not a union agent for purposes of this proceeding, and that the alleged "threat" about "mixed messages" was vague and could not have affected the outcome of the election since it did not in any event go beyond the one employee who testified about it. Finally, the hearing officer rejected the Times'objection that the union argued to employees that it was going to lose but people should vote for it anyway to make it close and "send a message" as just a campaign statement, which, even if it happened, could not have affected the outcome.
Thank you to all who testified and otherwise helped in preparing and presenting our case at the NLRB.
The paper has until March 30 to file "exceptions" * which are essentially an appeal * to this decision to the NLRB in Washington, DC, and we anticipate the Times will do so, though there is no definitive word on that at this time. The Times has until March 30 to file exceptions with the NLRB in Washington, D.C.
Ira L. Gottlieb
Geffner & Bush
SOURCE Ronnie Pineda
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Nothing in life is free, so I paid David $20.00 for helping out, and also promised a new pair of shoes for him. I was going to purchase his new shoes anyway, but I want him to feel he earned the shoes for the work he completed.
A big thank you goes to our plant manager, Greg Malcolm, for supplying the discount cards that are missing from the pressroom.
If you’re a Times employee and subscriber to the newspaper, but not receiving the employee discount, contact me and I’ll direct you to the correct parties to have this resolved.
The Los Angeles Times Friends and Family offer ends on March 26th, this special offer will give you the newspaper at half off the regular price as long as you remain a subscriber.
Follow this link to the new subscriber page and enter my employee number to start your newspaper today. 051627
As I peer at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I see a middle aged man, but my mind is lagging behind, I still think I’m twenty years old. Right now, my body is feeling old, my neck and back are sore, and the joints in my knees and elbows are aching.
I had planned to paint our kitchen today, but this task will have to wait till I recover from the twenty-two hours of overtime completed this morning.
Needless to say, I will be grinning from ear to ear come March 30th, when Tribune employees are paid.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Former Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson has taken an executive position with Yucaipa Cos., the private investment firm that last year joined in a bid to buy the newspaper's parent, Tribune Co. of Chicago.Johnson will be a principal in Los Angeles-based Yucaipa, founded by supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, and will oversee its current media interests, which include parts of former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV channel and Source Interlink, a major distributor of magazines and CDs.
Tribune inducted into Hall of Shame - LA Biz Observed
It's the annual Calpers rundown of companies that have failed in the area of corporate governance and financial performance. Ten other companies made it on the list: Marsh & McLennan Cos., Eli Lilly & Co., Sara Lee Corp., International Paper Co., Corinthian Colleges Inc., Tenet Healthcare Corp., EMC Corp., Dollar Tree Stores Inc., Kellwood Co. and Sanmina-SCI Corp. Tribune gets dinged for financial performance, but there's also the corporate governance stuff:
Proposal for Tribune Said to Lose Momentum - New York Times
As a March 31 deadline nears for deciding the fate of the Tribune Company, the proposal from Sam Zell, the Chicago real estate billionaire, is falling from favor, according to people close to the situation.
Big blow to Los Angeles Times - LAObserved
Science writer Robert Lee Hotz is leaving the Times for the Wall Street Journal to write the Science Journal column. An elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a leader of the National Association of Science Writers, Hotz has been based recently in New York.
Advocate's union files grievance with Tribune Co. - Stamford Times
The union representing 40 editorial employees at The Advocate and Greenwich Time is filing a grievance against the Tribune Company which is selling the two papers to Gannett Co., Inc. for $73 million. Local 2110 UAW Tuesday filed a grievance against the Chicago-based company complaining that the union's contract, which extends until September 2008, was not considered in the sale of the paper to Virginia-based Gannett.
NLRB Claims Santa Barbara Paper Wrongly Fired 7 Staffers - Editor & Publisher
A day after the Santa Barbara News-Press lost its challenge against a newsroom vote to unionize last fall, the troubled newspaper has been dealt another blow as the National Labor Relations Board chose to uphold a string of unfair labor charges, including the unlawful firing of seven staffers engaged in union activities.
Two dozen to take Star Tribune buyouts - Minnesota Monitor
In a joint email to staff at the Star Tribune, managing editor Scott Gillespie and editor Nancy Barnes revealed that 24 newsroom employees would take voluntary buyouts.
Color hits Tribune's op-ed pages - Chicago Business
The Chicago Tribune’s opinion and editorial pages have taken on another dimension. A recently completed press upgrade has brought color to the pages, as well as to other parts of the newspaper. “It’s been spot color so far,” Bruce Dold, editorial page editor for the Chicago Tribune, said of the Op-Ed pages. “As we increase capacity, it will be more frequent, but I don’t know if it will be" every day on those pages.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Making my rounds in the Blogosphere tonight, Kate Coe from Fish Bowl LA, has an article regarding a new blog at the Los Angeles Times titled Carbon Shift. I followed the link, and discovered the blog is not running yet. As soon as Carbon Shift is launched, I will add a link from here.
In the mean time, I will be deleting the dead blogs from the Los Angeles Times links this weekend.
I was grinning from ear to ear over this, and really appreciate David taking the time to link to my story, and he even included my employee number.
After running a search for friends and family, I see my fellow employees have placed advertisements online as well. Caesar (Big Bad Wolf) also spammed everyone in his address book with the Times subscription offer, without success, but at least he’s doing his part.
Thank you David Markland